If you're wondering, "What is clarified butter?", it's simply butter that has been heated to remove the milk solids and some of the water, leaving only pure butterfat. Sounds complicated, but really it's super simple to do -- and very hard to screw up.
But when do you want to use clarified butter? Well, since the milk solids have been removed, the pure butterfat has a much higher smoking point, allowing you to sauté foods at a higher heat than you could normally use with regular butter.
I like to use it when making scrambled eggs; however, my favorite use for it is when making homemade popcorn. You know that gritty, yucky coating that you typically get as the butter cools after pouring it over popcorn? Yeah, using clarified butter eliminates that -- and because you've removed some of the water from the butter, it keeps your popcorn nice and crispy, too!
Start by heating two sticks of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over very low heat. Note that since you're basically concentrating the butterfat, you'll want to use the best quality of butter that you can.
Continue heating until the butter is melted and you see foam rising to the top. It may sputter and splatter a bit, so be careful.
After there doesn't seem to be anymore foam rising to the the top, you can turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner. Line a fine mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth folded about four times, and set it over a bowl or measuring cup.
Simply pour the clarified butter through the cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer into your container. The milk solids will remain behind, and you'll be left with your pure clarified butter.
You can use the clarified butter right away, or as it cools, it will solidify, making it easy to store. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 6 months, but chances are it won't be around that long. I have some on hand in a jar in my refrigerator at all times!
You can easily reduce or increase the amount you make by using fewer or more sticks of butter. You only need about 1/4 cup of clarified butter for our favorite Better Than Movie Theater Homemade Popcorn, about the amount you'd make by clarifying a single 1/2 cup stick of butter.
What's your favorite way to use clarified butter?